Communists and the National Question

A short series looking at how the national question was taken up throughout the history of the workers' movement.

Part 1: The debate on the national question at the dawn of decadence

Workers of countries, unite.” This call at the end of the Communist Manifesto written by Marx and Engels in 1848 was not just an exuberant exhortation; it expressed one of the most vital conditions for the victory of the working class. From its very birth the movement of the working class proclaimed its international class character against the national boundaries which marked the development of the domination of the capitalist class over the proletariat.

Communists and the National Question, Part 2 (1900-1920): The debate during the years of imperialist war

In the first article in this series in International Review 34, we examined the attitude of communists to the national question on the eve of capitalism’s decadent epoch, and in particular the debate between Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg on whether the working class should support ‘the right of nations to self determination’. We concluded that even when some national liberation struggles could still be considered progressive vis a vis the interests of the working class, such a slogan had to be rejected.

Communists and the National Question, Part 3: The Debate during the Revolutionary Wave and the Lessons for Today

In this third and last articles we want to examine the most crucial testing time for the revolutionary movement: the historic events between the seizure of power by the Russian workers in 1917 and the Second Congress of the Communist International in 1920; from the first optimistic step towards the destruction of capitalism to the first signs of defeat of the workers’ struggles and the degeneration of the movement in Russia.

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